Best TV buying guide: what to consider when buying tv: Are you going to buy a new television? Read these 10 keys to be right in your choice.
Each new generation of televisions incorporates new functions and technologies that make choosing the most suitable one not always easy. We give you 10 keys to succeed in choosing your TV before buying.
Best TV buying guide of 2020
Buying a television has become a somewhat more complicated task than simply going to the usual appliance store and buying the first television they have on offer.
In fact, although they may seem practically identical on the outside, the technical differences that each model houses inside can be decisive. We show you 10 keys to succeed in your choice.
You will discover that when choosing a television it is not only necessary to take into account its price or size, but there are also other important factors that make the difference between choosing “a television” and the television you need.
1. Budget: Set a realistic budget
We break the ice with, perhaps, the most obvious option: the budget available to buy a television. Money is a powerful argument when choosing a television since, depending on the available budget, it will determine the size, performance, and even the screen technology that it will have.
This budget must be realistic but flexible to some extent. The television market is subject to many price fluctuations caused by specific offers and promotions in which you can buy cheap televisions.
However, those prices should be taken for what they are: a punctual offer, and not as the usual price of the television.
It is very likely that your brother-in-law will come to tell you that he has bought a 65-inch television for 300 dollars, but setting that price as an initial budget is not the best of ideas.
In the market, there are TVs of 300 dollars and 6,000 dollars, and each price step is based on technological improvement. No matter how much they tell you, you don’t see or hear the same TV of 300 dollars as one of 800 or one of 1500 dollars.
Based on that, and considering that not everyone needs – or can afford – a television of more than 1,000 dollars, setting a realistic budget, but with some flexibility, is a good starting point.
The requirement for certain flexibility is based on the fact that the price differences between models can be minimal. There may be a situation in which, for a difference of 40 or 50 dollars. It is worth jumping from the highest model in a series to the lowest in the next higher series for the improvements that this implies.
2. Size: It will seem huge to you, but only at first
After the price, one of the decisive keys to choose a television is its size. Here, the user tends to be too cautious, and one of the questions that come to mind is: Isn’t it too big?
Apart from the logical limitations of available space – if it does not fit in your living room furniture or space where it must be installed, there is little to do – the size of the television is one of the most obvious issues. Is a 65-inch TV better than a 49-inch TV?
The size of the television is determined by the distance at which it will be viewed. A simple mathematical formula will give you the perfect size for the available distance: Viewing distance (in inches) x 0.84 = inches from the TV.
With this formula, we find that if you usually watch the television from a distance of 2 meters (200 cm / 2.54 = 79 inches), after performing the operation, we obtain that, for that distance, a television of up to 66 inches (79 inches away x 0.84 = 66 inches screen) would be a perfect size.
Many users will put their hands to their heads when they go to the store with the result of that operation and see the actual size of a 65-inch television set “on the spot,” but this television is huge for my living room!
It is a common thing since we still have engraved with fire that if you are very close to the TV, it is not appreciated with the same quality. This is where 4k and 8K resolution make a big difference by allowing you to cut distances in half.
A TV of, say, 50 inches with Full HD resolution has about 2 million pixels, while one of the same sizes with 4K resolution has about 8.3 million pixels in the same space. This involves much smaller pixels that become almost imperceptible even a few inches away.
This makes visual quality unaffected by reducing the viewing distance, moreover, occupying the maximum visual space of the viewer makes the experience much richer and more immersive. It is a sensation closer to that obtained in the cinema but from the living room of your house.
3. Display technology: LED, QLED, Nano cell, and OLED are not the same
In addition to the size, the price of the television very seriously conditions the quality of the panel. No, although it may seem like it, not all the screens of a brand are the same, even if they use the same technology.
The most common and cheapest technology to manufacture is LCD LED screens, which, in turn, are the screens that are used to mounting the cheapest televisions.
These LCD LED screens have been in production for a long time, so the production processes are already highly refined, and high levels of profitability have been reached. So they are cheaper despite using more components.
This technology is based on an LED lighting source that is projected onto a series of diffusing filters and polarizers until it reaches a liquid crystal panel that. Through the electrical excitation of its cells (pixels), allows a certain wave frequency to pass from the light that our eye perceives as colors.
The theory is simple, but the quality of the image and, therefore, the final price of the television will depend on the execution.
While this lighting is emitted from the edge of the screen on the most inexpensive televisions, mid-range models choose to use zone rear lighting systems. And high-end models create an array of LED lights arranged at the rear to illuminate the entire screen precisely and homogeneously, avoiding “spots” in the screen lighting.
The type of screen lighting is not the only thing that sets TVs apart. The technology integrated into the filters and polarizers that are located before the panel also make essential differences in quality and, therefore, in price.
Within the same category of LCD LED screens, we find more advanced technologies such as LG’s Nano cell screens or Samsung’s QLED. They could be considered an LCD 2.0 LED. This technology uses the best rear lighting technology combined with a series of filters impregnated with nano-sized crystals.
These tiny crystals act as filters that capture a certain light spectrum (RGB) depending on its size, filtering it eliminating the rest of the wave frequencies and power. The result is brighter, more vividly colored displays.
As an evolution of LED LCD technology, televisions with this type of screen are only slightly more expensive than traditional LCD LEDs since the manufacturing process continues to be practically the same with some improvements in certain aspects.
Finally, we have OLED screens, a technology that, unlike the LCD LEDs that we have seen, does not use an additional lighting system. Still, each pixel turns on or off independently as if they were tiny light bulbs arranged next to each other to the other.
The great peculiarity of OLED screens is that, while to show any color each pixel lights up with more or less intensity, to show the black color the pixels are completely turned off. This makes OLEDs the only ones capable of displaying pure black without light pollution.
This technology is very recent, making it more expensive to manufacture and, therefore, the final price of televisions is also more expensive.
4. Processor: The processor is important – resolution, HDR, and image quality are at stake.
The processor is one of the first components that you look at when choosing your computer or your smartphone. However, very few users worry about which processor their TV mounts.
This is a very frequent error, and it is not trivial since factors such as resolution, HDR management, or the quality of the processing of movements depend on the power of your processor.
As we have already mentioned, a 4K television is made up of about 8 million pixels that must be governed efficiently to offer the highest image quality. The processor depends on such important tasks as scaling the image to 4K from HD or Full HD sources. If it is not powerful enough, you will not be able to convert this signal, and the image will lose definition when watching DTT channels or Blu-ray content.
On the other hand, HDR (especially the standards with dynamic metadata) establish the intensity and the color treatment that each pixel must have at each moment of the film. This requires a certain processing power so that the result is not inconsistent, and the quality is as expected.
Each brand develops and refines its own image processors to differentiate itself from other manufacturers. In fact, in the industry, it is quite common to find several televisions of different masks that use the same panel but that, thanks to the work of their processor, offer a very different image quality.
5. Operating system: the place where everything happens
Televisions are becoming more sophisticated and feature-packed, making them more and more like a computer instead of the “dumb box” they used to be.
That is why the operating system that mounts the TV will be a differential factor in the experience of use and in the adjustment and customization options of the rest of the device from the Smart TV connectivity platform to the image controls. Everything happens in the operating system.
Again, each brand has developed its own operating system for its devices. We have examples such as Tizen on Samsung televisions, webOS on LG ones, or VIDAA U on Hisense ones.
The exception to this rule is found in Android TV, the version of the operating system present in 85% of the mobiles in our country, specifically adapted to work on televisions.
Brands like Sony or Philips, among many others, use Android TV in their televisions, adding small improvements in the system to integrate the specific functions for their hardware.
Important things depend on a solvent operating system such as the availability of Netflix, Disney +, or Amazon apps, among many other streaming video and entertainment platforms that are essential to obtain a good user experience.
6. Connectivity: Connectivity with the future in mind
Did you know that to choose the right TV in 2020, it is as important to look at the front as the back of the device?
And it is because in the back you will find the different connectors of the television. This is a section that has been gaining importance as the capacities of televisions have increased.
The clearest example is found in the HDMI connectors that, depending on their version, offer a series of features or limit the quality of the devices that connect to that port.
The arrival of HDMI 2.1 is marking a before and after in the connectivity of televisions since this standard allows a much higher bandwidth, which translates into better image quality.
This improvement in the connectivity of the televisions allows to take better advantage of the benefits of the televisions when connecting a new generation console or a gaming computer since the synchronization with the GPU is improved and allows the games to be displayed in 4K and HDR resolutions improving the experience of the game.
Also, the incorporation of wireless technologies such as Bluetooth or compatibility with WiFi 5 networks (802.11 ac) will make it easier to connect with game controllers, Bluetooth headsets or keyboards, as well as facilitate high-speed transmission, essential for achieving 4K content. On streaming platforms.
7. Design: A well-designed TV isn’t just about being pretty
When we talk about design, it is customary to think only about the aesthetic aspect of the devices. But the design should make possible a more comfortable use of the television.
Typically, televisions integrate curved lines in the rear, which, aesthetically speaking, can be very attractive. Still, if you are thinking of installing the television in a bracket on the wall, a curve in the rear will make it stand out more than a model with the rear straighter and flatter.
On the other hand, the design should also serve to make the connectors more accessible. Some televisions try to hide the connectors on the back, making it difficult to connect when installed on the wall. Therefore it is important to note that the TV has some connectors on the side to facilitate this connection.
The design of the base or legs must also be functional. When it comes to a large format TV with a center stand, if it is not strong enough, it can cause the TV to lose lateral stability, causing it to sway excessively with minimal movement.
Whether you opt for a TV with side legs or a central base, it is important that it has a well-designed cable management system, which directs and hides the cables between the connection area and the back of the cabinet so as not to leave any unsightly cables hanging from the back.
8. Sound Quality: The sound, that great forgotten on TVs
Sound is 50% of the viewing experience. However, it is one of the great forgotten in the configuration of televisions.
For reasons of space, the speakers that make up the televisions cannot be too large, an essential quality, especially to obtain good bass. So getting deep bass on today’s TV is almost utopian.
Aware of this, manufacturers use different technologies to improve the sound of their televisions.
Some models, such as the Philips OLED+ 900 series, have a soundbar that acts as the base for the TV. Others, like the Sony Bravia AG9, are committed to using the entire screen as a resonance surface, turning it into a giant center speaker.
Many televisions hype about their compatibility with different standards of surround sound. This does not necessarily imply that the integrated television speakers are capable of reproducing that standard, but that the processor is capable of decoding the audio signal of that standard, but it will be necessary to connect a compatible external sound system to reproduce it correctly.
What some current televisions do have is a surround sound emulation system that uses artificial intelligence built into the processors to detect the size and characteristics of your living room to distribute the sound in a certain way.
9. Integration with the rest of your house
More and more IoT devices coexist in the home, so it is common for them to form small ecosystems that allow communication between them, so that you can speak to the speaker to turn off lights or even turn on the coffee maker, among many other things.
Televisions can also be integrated into that ecosystem, but for this, it is necessary to have compatibility for this.
The most common are those governed by Amazon’s Alexa assistants and Google Assistant, although brands such as Samsung, with their SmartThings, or LG with their ThinQ ecosystem, use their own integrations to control other brand devices and appliances from the TV.
With this system, you can establish a certain lighting environment by giving a voice command to the television, and all this comfortably from the sofa. Obviously, all these integrations can raise the final price of the television.
10. Best Time: What is the best time of year to buy a television?
Is there a perfect time of year to buy a television? Well, the truth is that there are several times throughout the year in which certain models can considerably lower their prices. The bad news is that they don’t always have a fixed date.
The best time of year to buy a television is shortly after the introduction of the new model. At this point, stores that still have units of the previous model in their warehouses want to give them an outlet to receive the new units, so it is common for these to lower their price somewhat.
On the other hand, throughout the year, there are events of offers and promotions such as Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, or the Christmas campaign, in which stores propose very aggressive discounts to encourage sales.
The great disadvantage of these specific promotions is that they tend to lower only certain models, which may not coincide with the model you had in mind.
At the beginning of this list, we cited the importance of having a relatively flexible budget, and when examining these promotions, it is when more flexibility should be had since, for a little more money, you can buy a television of a much higher range than you had planned.